After Sterilgarda Ducati announced that Alessandro Polita would not be present at the first two races of the season, leaving Shane Byrne as the sole representative of the team, further rumors are emerging that Polita could be replaced altogether. Both Bikesportnews.com and sources inside Italy are reporting that Polita could lose his place altogether, after Polita's personal sponsors failed to find the promised cash to fund the Italian's season, and that Fonsi Nieto is waiting in the wings to take his place.
Nieto has no such money problems. The Spaniard, nephew of the legendary Angel Nieto, brings with him the Spanish cellphone provider Pepephone, which helped fund the Alstare Suzuki team last year. But though money may be no concern, there is still some doubt about the truth of these rumors. Nieto himself claims that he will be riding for Alstare Suzuki this season, despite his absence from the first World Superbike test at Portimao earlier this year.
Nieto's claims could well be more bargaining position than fact, given the deathly silence emanating from Francis Batta's Alstare Suzuki team. And if that silence continues, a move to Sterilgarda Ducati would be no bad option. But the loss of a ride for Polita due to sponsoring problems shows that World Superbike is not immune from the financial crisis currently hammering MotoGP.